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Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter

The Handover, Cariad 1922 by Peter Stuckey

Cariad was built  in 1904 by Edwin 'Cracker' Rowles for a Cardiff pilot, Thomas Richards of 47 St Fagans Street, and she was registered at Cardiff on February 9th 1905. To pay for her, Richards obtained a mortgage from a fellow pilot, Frank Trott.

Richards, born in 1865, got his port pilot licence in 1891, his second-class licence in 1898, and his Channel license in January 1904. When the Cardiff pilots were amalgamated in 1913, Cariad was sold, with all the other Cardiff pilot cutters, to the Steam Pilot Boat Company (Cardiff and Bristol Channel) Limited. She was valued at £450, and the company register in January 1913 states that Cariad was one of four pilot cutters kept in service pending the arrival of the steam cutters that were to replace them.

Some crew lists for Cariad still exist. From January 1st - June 30th 1906 Richards, as owner and master, had Frank Beech and William Williams, able seaman. as crew, the latter discharged "conduct and ability good”; Williams was replaced by Walter Smith, able seaman from Cardiff. The list of January 1st  - June 30th 1909 had Frank Beech again as crew, along  with George Granville, able seaman. For January 1st - June 30th 1913, Richards had Frank Coles and another able seaman, Amos Buck from Pill.

In the statement filed at Companies House over the creation of the Steam Pilot Boat Company, Thomas Richards is shown as one of the proposed directors, his address now 4 Grange Gardens, Cardiff. He is also shown as one of the company's subscribers, with an original allocation of five shares, later increased to 25.

On February 6th 1914 the company resolved to sell Cariad, for £225, and she was duly acquired by a Bristol pilot, Enoch Watkins of Pendarvis, Pill. On June 16th 1915 the Bristol coastguard's issued Cariad with a permit allowing her to sail up to three miles from Pill, during daylight hours only. After the death of Watkins in 1916, ownership stayed with his widow, when Cariad was used by other Bristol pilots, namely George Thomas, Christopher Case and Leonard Vowles.

Cariad  was one of four pilot cutters kept on after the Bristol pilots' amalgamation in July 1918. Cariad's station was near the Breaksea lightship, and it was here on Tuesday December 12th 1922 that the era of sailing pilot cutters came to a close, when the steam cutter Queen Mary came down channel to relieve her.

Cariad was sold to a Lieutenant E.N. Waugh of the Naval Reserves. He put an engine in her, but she had been laid up for 18 months by the time he sold her.

Cariad off Ilfracombe, circa 1910

Cariad 1904-1922

The Last Working Cutter Part 1 by Tim Pratt